Europe | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Sat, 21 Oct 2017 00:30:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Europe | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 Where to Find the Best Pizza in Rome https://moon.com/2017/10/where-to-find-the-best-pizza-in-rome/ https://moon.com/2017/10/where-to-find-the-best-pizza-in-rome/#respond Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:09:26 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60722 Stereotypes aside, it’s true: Italians love their slices, not only for the dose of melty, crispy deliciousness, but for the convenience. Whether you take yours al taglio (to go), or posted up in a cozy trattoria, here are our top picks for the best pizza in Rome.

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If there’s one word that’s synonymous with Italy, it’s pizza. Stereotypes aside, it’s true: Italians love their slices, not only for the dose of melty, crispy deliciousness, but for the convenience. Whether you take yours al taglio (to go), or posted up in a cozy trattoria, here are our top picks for the best pizza in Rome.

umbrella labeled with pizzeria in Rome

Enjoy a slice of pizza in Roma. Photo © enzart/iStock.

Zazà

Located a stone’s throw from the Pantheon, Zazà (Piazza di Sant’Eustachio 49, t: 0668801357, open Monday–Saturday 9am–11pm, Sunday 9am–midnight) is a great option for a quick lunch or an easy dinner. Their limited (and rotating) menu offers seasonal, organic ingredients piled on always-fresh, perfectly fluffy crust. Popular favorites are the truffle and ricotta cheese, chicory and brie, or the classic tomato mozzarella. Taking your goods to go is relatively common practice (there are no indoor seats), but customers are welcome to have a seat at the outdoor tables facing the pizza shop’s small side street. Bonus: they sell beer to wash it all down.

Ai Marmi

Be prepared to wait in line or plan to show up early to Ai Marmi (Viale di Trastevere 53-55, t: 065800919, open Thursday–Tuesday 7pm–2am): this popular, no frills joint fills up at lightning speed, but trust us, it’s a favorite among Trastevere locals for good reason. The deliciously charred pizzas and mouthwatering seasonal toppings are 100% worth the wait. The restaurant is a no-muss, no-fuss, authentic Italian experience, with a sizeable section of outdoor sidewalk tables and only a few indoor seats. Order the popular zucchini or squash blossom and sausage pizza, ask for the house red, and enjoy your little slice of heaven.

La Boccaccia

La Boccaccia (Via Leonina 73, t: 3404551968, open daily 9am–midnight) is a little pizza shop and another certified local favorite—not to mention cheap for the area. Since the pizza is sold by weight, do yourself a favor and order small pieces of two or three different kinds—maybe a crispy potato and parsley, a sundried tomato and fresh arugula, or a meatball and ricotta. Seating is pretty limited, so if you don’t score a spot outdoors or at the bar, take your pizza al taglio and stroll a few blocks over to the river.

Pizzeria Nuovo Mondo

Nuovo Mondo (Via Amerigo Vespucci 15, t: 065746004, open Tuesday–Sunday 6:30pm–12:30am) is an unassuming yet popular restaurant, hidden slightly off the beaten tourist track in Testaccio. Expect a loud, busy atmosphere, less-than-romantic halogen lights, and a fair number of locals out for an easy dinner. The variety of pizzas on the menu is fairly wide, but popular favorites run the gamut from a classic margherita, to gorgonzola and radicchio, to tuna and onions. Be sure to order the house wine, and, if you’ve got room, a couple antipasti before the main event—the carciofi alla giudia (fried artichokes) are much-beloved.

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Amsterdam-Oost Self-Guided Walk https://moon.com/2017/10/amsterdam-oost-self-guided-walk/ https://moon.com/2017/10/amsterdam-oost-self-guided-walk/#respond Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:42:57 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60719 Oost (meaning “East”) is perhaps Amsterdam’s most varied and unique neighborhood. The locals have fully embraced this cultural melting pot, and rightly so! Hip and trendy blend seamlessly with classic and historic here—on the Javastraat, you’ll find a growing number of trendy coffee houses, boutiques, and restaurants, interspersed with funky, multicultural shops.

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Oost (meaning “East”) is perhaps Amsterdam’s most varied and unique neighborhood. The locals have fully embraced this cultural melting pot, and rightly so! Hip and trendy blend seamlessly with classic and historic here—on the Javastraat, you’ll find a growing number of trendy coffee houses, boutiques, and restaurants, interspersed with funky, multicultural shops.

On this easy stroll, you’ll experience the diversity of this neighborhood’s rich history, as evidenced by everything from traditional Amsterdam markets, to a burgeoning food scene featuring cuisine from around the world. This neighborhood is especially great for food and shopping, whether you’re craving sit-down dinners and couture or picnics and vintage threads. If you have a little extra time, Amsterdam’s zoo (Artis) is also in this neighborhood, making this walk an excellent choice if you’re traveling with kids.

a street lined with bicycles in Amsterdam

Take an easy stroll through this Amsterdam neighborhood and explore the history and culture of the area along the way. Photo © adisa/iStock.

Follow along with this route for a taste of the best that Oost has to offer!

To fuel up for the day, start with breakfast at the Drovers Dog (Eerste Atjehstraat 62, t: 020 3703784, open Monday–Tuesday 8am–6pm, Wednesday–Friday 8am–10pm, Saturday 9am–10pm, Sunday 9am–9pm), a trendy Australian eatery with a super friendly, casual vibe. Australians know how to do breakfast right; “bog in” to the Drover’s full brekkie (a combo platter of fried eggs, sausages, tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms).

From Drovers, head over to the Javastraat to check out the Java Bookshop (Javastraat 145, t: 020 4634993, open Tuesday–Friday 10am–6pm, Saturday 10am–5pm), one of the neighborhood’s hidden gems. Take your time and browse the wide selection of Dutch and English world literature, cook books, and children’s books, housed in a quaint, homey atmosphere. The enthusiastic staff are happy to help you make up your mind over a cup of coffee and a tasty treat.

girl walking on the sidewalk beside the brick buildings of berlageblokken in Amsterdam

The buildings of Berlageblokken are on the register of historical buildings.

Be sure to also check out the nearby Berlageblokken (Balistraat, Benkoelenstraat, Javaplein, Javastraat, Langkatstraat. Not open to the public.), a collection of apartments designed by prominent Dutch architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage and built to accommodate blue-collar workers. The apartments underwent substantial renovation in the 1960s, but are still listed on the register of historical buildings.

Over on Javaplein, check out the Badhuis Javaplein (Javaplein 21, t: 020 6651226, open Monday–Thursday 10am–1am, Friday–Sunday 10am–3am), one of the last bathhouses to be built in Amsterdam, in 1942. The building has housed everything from a secondhand shop to a Hindu temple, but nowadays, beer taps have replaced shower heads, and the bathhouse serves as a meeting place and watering hole for neighborhood.

Tucked behind the bathhouse, you’ll find Jansen Vintage (Javaplein 31, t: 06 10125018, open Wednesday–Saturday 11am–6pm), and excellent vintage shop that immediately transports you to the ‘50s and ‘60s. Everything in here has been carefully curated, from lamps and glassware, to larger furniture pieces from both famous and obscure brands alike. If you’re hungry, check out the restaurant next door, Wilde Zwijnen (“Wild Boar”) (Javaplein 23, t: 020 4633043, open Monday–Thursday 6pm–10:15pm, Friday–Sunday noon–4pm & 6pm–10:15pm). The atmospheric restaurant specializes in seasonal dishes made with local Dutch produce—think mushrooms deep fried in beer batter and rich, hearty venison stew. They take reservations, so feel free to stop by and reserve a table for dinner later on.

Turn down Borneostraat to Amsterdam East’s hotspot, Studio/K (Timorplein 62, t: 020 6920422, open Sunday–Thursday 11am–1am, Friday–Saturday 11am–3am): a unique space where film, theater, music, food, and drink come together in an old red brick venue that attracts a colorful clientele.

Head back over to the Javastraat and check out a couple of the shops. Div. Herenkabinet (Javastraat 8, t: 020 6944084, open Monday–Friday 10am–6:30pm, Saturday 10am–6pm, Sunday noon–6pm) is a stylish, uncluttered men’s boutique that offers everything from Japanese jeans to Swiss knives and Swedish backpacks. The boutique Hartje Oost (Javastraat 23, t: 020 2332137, open Thursday–Friday 9am–7pm, Saturday 9am–6:30pm, Sunday 10am–6:30pm) is one of the latest additions to the Javastraat, offering excellent coffee, fashionable clothing, fresh sandwiches, and handmade jewelry. The owners focus on products that tell a story—everything here is ecological, sustainable, fair trade, local, and wholly original.

women walking through market stalls in Amsterdam

The Dappermarkt is host to a variety of international wares.

Nearby you’ll find the Dappermarkt (Monday–Saturday 10am–5pm), a fun street market with a plethora of international wares that’s been named the best in the Netherlands several times. Follow along the same road, and you’ll find We Are Vintage (Rerste van Swindenstraat 43, t: 06 26945325, open Monday–Wednesday & Friday–Saturday 11am–7pm, Thursday 11am–8pm, Sunday noon–6pm). This trendy shop is a bargain-hunter’s dream; they offer quality secondhand clothing (suede and leather lovers, you’re especially in luck), all available for purchase by the kilo rather than individually priced.

If your stomach’s starting to growl, walk over to Roopram Roti (Eerste van Swindenstraat 4, t: 020 6932902, open Tuesday–Saturday noon–9pm, Sunday 1pm–9pm). The casual lunch spot makes some of the best roti in town (a Surinamese pancake packed with a delicious, spicy filling). As an added bonus, you take your lunch to go, and enjoy a picnic in the Oosterpark just around the corner.

At the edge of the park sits the Tropenmuseum (Linnaeusstraat 2, t: 020 5688200, open Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm, entrance €12.50), a unique museum housed in a stunning building, where visitors can wander through lifelike replicas of dwellings, rooms, and shops from countries around the world. Among other things, the enormous collection includes a door from Marrakech, an altar from Mexico, and African musical instruments. If you’re here with the kids (or not!), be sure to check out the films and interactive exhibits, which often feature fun and exciting activities geared towards children.


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Traveling the Atlantic Road in Norway https://moon.com/2017/10/traveling-the-atlantic-road-in-norway/ https://moon.com/2017/10/traveling-the-atlantic-road-in-norway/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 23:50:47 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=59792 Famous the world over thanks to multiple car television ads, the Atlantic Road (also called the Atlantic Ocean Road) is one of Norway’s most popular attractions. Linking the western coast of Averøy island with the mainland, the 8.3-kilometer (5.1-mile) stretch of Route 64 dances across skerries and islets interspersed with lookouts, fishing spots, and even the odd hotel.

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Famous the world over thanks to multiple car television ads, the Atlantic Road (also called the Atlantic Ocean Road) is one of Norway’s most popular attractions. Linking the western coast of Averøy island with the mainland, the 8.3-kilometer (5.1-mile) stretch of Route 64 dances across skerries and islets interspersed with lookouts, fishing spots, and even the odd hotel. The most famous of the eight bridges is the sweeping Storseisundet, which seems to defy engineering logic from certain angles. In fact, the road was voted as Norway’s greatest engineering feat in 2005. If you never believed a road could look beautiful, think again.

aerial shot of the Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway

The Atlantic Road is one of Norway’s most popular attractions. Photo © CookeIma/iStock.

As it is exposed to open ocean, the road can be struck by sudden changes in weather conditions. In fact, 12 European windstorms interrupted construction from 1983 to 1989. Be wary of driving during storms, as high waves can result in water sweeping across the bridges. On calm days, take advantage of the many parking areas to follow the trails around the islets and take in the road and its natural surroundings from all angles.

The road is a popular location for anglers and bird-watchers given its exposure to the ocean, the latter hoping to glimpse the mighty sea eagle. One of the bridges, Myrbærholmbrua, has been specially designed with a pedestrian walkway to better facilitate fishing. A great catch of cod is all but guaranteed even for just hobby fishers, so Myrbærholmbrua is usually bustling with anglers of all nationalities and experience levels.

It’s not just anglers who are attracted by the area’s unique characteristics. Divers too flock to the Atlantic Road to explore the region’s shipwrecks and remarkable life on the ocean floor. Certified divers can join a guided trip run by the experienced Strømsholmen Sjøsportsenter (Strømsholmen, tel. 71 29 81 74, daily). Prices vary from 250kr to explore the local reef up to 680kr for a long boat trip to canyons and a seal colony. The same company also offers kiting, kayaking, fishing, and biking experiences. A three-hour fishing trip (noon daily, but call in advance to check) costs 750kr plus equipment rental, but you are guaranteed to come back with a catch.

Food and Accommodations

There are few more atmospheric places to stay anywhere in Norway than the original fishing and trading islet now occupied by Håholmen Havstuer (tel. 71 51 72 50, mid-June to mid-Aug., 1,090kr s, 1,690kr d). Transfer from Håholmen Marina (Håholmen Gjestehavn), halfway along the Atlantic Road, is by boat with departures on the hour 11am-9pm. The 49 spacious double rooms are spread across 25 buildings that also include a pub, restaurant, and museum. Rooms can lack natural light, but the views out of the small windows and from the island itself are unbeatable.

Located on Averøy island, the wooden cabins of Atlanterhavsveien Sjøstuer (tel. 71 51 23 91) overlook the Atlantic Road and the open ocean. Two small cabins sleep two (990kr), while six cabins have enough room for up to six guests (1,400kr). A one-off cleaning charge of 500kr applies to both options. Three of the larger cabins come complete with a sauna. Despite their traditional appearance, the cabins are relatively new and are equipped with Wi-Fi, TV, stovetop, fridge, microwave, and dishwasher.

Food options in the area are largely restricted to expensive hotel restaurants with sporadic opening hours. Your best bet is to do some shopping in Kristiansund and bring a packed lunch or snacks to last the day. One recent addition to the Atlantic Road itself is Eldhuset (Lyngholmen, tel. 970 69 071), a simple café serving sandwiches, waffles, and coffee; it also doubles as a tourist information center. The modern structure is smartly built into a natural cliff so as not to disturb the aesthetics of the area, with a walkway circling Lyngholmen island. Opening times vary, but the typical schedule is daily June-August, weekends only during spring and fall.

a road winds along the marina in Kristiansund, Norway

Visit the town of Kristiansund for lunch and a bit of shopping. Photo © mikolajn/iStock.

Information and Services

Along with a café, the Eldhuset center contains public restrooms and maps that show the area’s hiking trails and best spots for fishing. Although the staff are connected with the café only, they are a mine of information and will happily help you out with advice if the café isn’t too busy. For more detailed travel planning help, contact the office of Destinasjon Kristiansund & Nordmøre (Kongens Plass 1, tel. 71 58 54 54, 9am-6pm Mon.-Sat., 9am-3pm Sun. mid-June to mid-Aug., 9am-3pm Mon.-Fri. rest of year) in Kristiansund.

Getting There

Car

From Kristiansund, drive on westbound Route 64 through the Atlantic Ocean Tunnel (98kr car plus driver, plus 40kr for each additional passenger) to Averøy island. Spend time on the scenic island, which has some worthy distractions, or head straight through on Route 64 to the Atlantic Road. The 31-kilometer (19.3-mile) drive from Kristiansund to the Atlantic Road takes 35 minutes.

After the Atlantic Road, Route 64 continues south for 50 kilometers to the town of Molde, from where you can continue a further 58 kilometers (36 miles) along Route 64 to Åndalsnes, or 80 kilometers (50 miles) along the E39 to Ålesund. Both routes include a short trip on a car ferry from Fjord1 (tel. 57 75 70 00). From the Atlantic Road, allow around 2-2.5 hours to reach Åndalsnes and about 3 hours to reach Ålesund.

Public Transit

Options to reach the Atlantic Road without your own transport are limited, but Fram (tel. 71 28 01 00) runs several daily services from Kristiansund to Molde via the Atlantic Road. The buses are regular scheduled services and not sightseeing tours, so you will need to plan in advance how much time you want to spend at the road and plan your return accordingly. Alternatively, you can stay on the bus through to Molde to continue your journey south, although this will seriously limit the experience and likely leave you frustrated. The journey from Kristiansund takes around 50 minutes to arrive at the Atlantic Road and costs 150kr. The service does run on weekends but the frequency is much more limited.

Travel map of Kristiansund and the Atlantic Road

Kristiansund and the Atlantic Road


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Norway.

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Best London Markets https://moon.com/2017/10/best-london-markets/ https://moon.com/2017/10/best-london-markets/#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 17:32:39 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60717 Ask a seasoned Londoner, and they’ll tell you there’s a no better way to spend a weekend morning than navigating the city’s famed street markets in search of that one perfect piece, that one-of-a-kind antique, or that fresh, farm-to-market produce. For some of the best street shopping and market stalls in London, check out these popular spots.

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London, in all its hip, fashionable glory, is a shopaholic’s nirvana. From Harrods and Mayfield, to just about any shop on Regent Street, there’s no shortage of tempting window displays and designer goods. Oxford Street alone, the city’s most popular bustling shopping district, has over 300 designer shops and unique boutiques to browse.

But ask a seasoned Londoner, and they’ll tell you there’s a no better way to spend a weekend morning than navigating the city’s famed street markets in search of that one perfect piece, that one-of-a-kind antique, or that fresh, farm-to-market produce—the stuff you just can’t find at the department stores (sorry, Harrods).

For some of the best street shopping and market stalls in London, check out these popular spots.

a variety of cheeses on display at the Borough Market in London

Borough Market is a foodie’s dream. Photo © Victor Huang/iStock.

Borough Market

Borough Market (Borough Market, se1, t: 02074071002, open Wed–Thurs 10am–5pm, Fri 10 am–6pm, Sat 8am–5pm) is the stuff of foodie dreams, and happens to be one of the oldest and largest markets in London. From Wednesday to Saturday, vendors and suppliers flock here from around the country to peddle their delicious treats: fruits and vegetables, freshly-caught seafood, still-warm-from-the-oven breads, homemade chocolates, jams, olives…you get the idea. Bon appetit!

Sunday Upmarket

This diverse and popular market is sort of part-flea, part-pop up, part-sample sale—you might find a handmade piece of jewelry direct from the artisan, or you might find designer shops discounting their threads for a limited time. Whatever you’re after, Sunday Upmarket (The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, e1, t: 02077706028, open Sunday 10am–5pm ) is the perfect spot to buy unique, quality products from over 140 vendors—and it doesn’t hurt that more than a few of them sell delicious baked goods. Just follow the scent of scones wafting through the market.

vintage military coat hangs with other items in the Portobello Market in London

Portobello Road Market offers a variety of items, including antiques. Photo © kateafter/iStock.

Portobello Road Market

The famous Portobello Road Market (Portobello Road, w11, open Monday–Wednesday & Saturday 8am–6:30pm, Thursday 8am–1pm ) isn’t the place to go for bargain-hunting, but it’s definitely a unique and worthwhile experience. There’s no telling what you’ll find, as the market stalls tend to change every day, but that’s part of the fun. If you’re in the market for antiques, head to Portobello on Saturday, when the market expands to accommodate a huge variety of sellers. The farther down the street you go, the more unique the offerings get—so don’t worry about going under the somewhat shabby overpass. There may be treasure lying just ahead.

Alfie’s Antique Market

To get to Alfie’s Antique Market (13-25 Church Street, nw8, t: 02077236066, open Tuesday–Saturday, 10am–6pm), you’ll have to deviate a little from the standard tourist route, but it’s absolutely worth the detour. This market is a treasure trove for antique and vintage shopping aficionados. More than 100 vendors sell their wares in this enormous covered labyrinth, from teaspoons to sideboards. Tin Tin Collectables is a great spot for vintage clothing (don’t freak out, but Kate Moss is regularly spotted here). Added bonus, the Rooftop Kitchen is an excellent spot for a classic English breakfast or a quick lunch.

Broadway Market

Broadway Market (Broadway Market, e8, open Saturday 9am–5pm) is where the city’s uber-cool hipsters flock to. It’s also a great spot to sit with a coffee on a Saturday morning and watch said uber-cool hipsters pass by. The market itself has been running for years—historical records show there were vendors here hawking their wares as early as the 1890s. It hit a bit of a rough patch in the 1980s, but the locals loved it too much to let it fall into decline; passionate residents pitched in and fully revived the market to its new, trendy splendor. Favorite businesses include the Spinach & Aguchi stall for delectable chicken stew with peanut sauce, Donlon Books and Artwords for exclusive photography and art books, and Off Broadway for cocktails.

Go shopping in London's bustling markets for vintage treasures, artisan foods, and unique flea market finds. These five markets from Southwark to Notting Hill offer the best of each!


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How to Spend a Sunday in Paris https://moon.com/2017/10/how-to-spend-a-sunday-in-paris/ https://moon.com/2017/10/how-to-spend-a-sunday-in-paris/#respond Mon, 02 Oct 2017 23:26:53 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60621 For a first-time visitor to Paris, wandering the streets on a Sunday can be a bit startling: where are all the people? Why are the grocery stores closed? Does this entire city shut down on Sundays? The answer is, for the most part, yes.

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For a first-time visitor to Paris, wandering the streets on a Sunday can be a bit startling: where are all the people? Why are the grocery stores closed? Does this entire city shut down on Sundays?

The answer is, for the most part, yes. Sundays are quiet for the French—typically, the day is devoted to rest, family, and a time-honored commitment to relaxation. Most businesses shut their doors after about noon, and many don’t open them at all. Don’t worry about lost time, though; in many ways, this is when Parisian joie de vivre is in its truest form. There are still plenty of goings-on around town, so sleep in a little, put on some comfy shoes, and take your time.

First stop: breakfast. Kick start your day at a classic neighborhood bar like Le Mouffetard (116 Rue Mouffetard, 5th arr., open Tuesday–Sunday 7:30am–7pm)—a true bar de quartier. Order up a café crème, croissant, and refreshing, freshly squeezed orange juice. From there, you’re just a few steps from the Rue Mouffetard Market (Rue Mouffetard, 5th arr., open Tuesday–Sunday 8am–1pm)! Sunday morning is when most of the locals are out shopping for the week—be sure to go on the early side, as it closes in the afternoon.

arches covered with roses frame a walkway in the Jardin des Plantes

On a nice day, head to the Jardin des Plantes for a picnic. Photo © Rrrainbow/iStock.

Take your time strolling among the carts of fresh produce, locally made cheese and cured meats, and just-out-of-the-oven breads and pastries. If it’s a nice day, take your scrumptious market goods to the nearby Jardin des Plantes (57 Rue Cuvier, 5th arr., garden open daily but hours vary seasonally, garden entrance free, greenhouse entrance 6 euro)–check out the rose gardens–or Place Dauphine (l’Île de la cite, 1st arr.). Enjoy the scenery from a peaceful park bench or sunny lawn as you snack on freshly baked baguette, ripe berries, and a creamy camembert.

Alternatively, head to one of Paris’ trendy brunch scenes. La Recyclerie (83 Boulevard Ornano, 18th arr, open Monday–Thursday 12pm–midnight, Friday–Saturday 12pm–2am, Sunday 12pm–10pm) in the 18th arrondisement is an out-of-use Metro station that was spruced up in 2014, with long, communal tables for eating, drinking, and mingling—plus plenty of fresh air. Enjoy the classic brunch spread on Saturdays and Sundays for 22 euros (or a vegetarian option for 20€). Pop-up flea markets and workshops are regularly held here, as well.

Brunch at La Recyclerie sets you up perfectly for a stroll through the nearby Marche aux Puces Saint-Ouen (124 Rue des Roisiers, 93400 Saint Ouen, open Friday–Monday 9:45am–1pm and 2pm–5:45pm), Paris’ largest antique and flea market. This village of shops (featured in tons of movies, including Midnight in Paris) boasts a practically never-ending treasure trove of unique finds, at both bargain and splurge-worthy prices.

light shines through the stained glass windows inside of Sainte Chapelle

The stained glass windows inside the Sainte Chapelle are a sight to behold. Photo © siraanamwong/iStock.

Back in the city center, make time for a visit to Sainte Chapelle (8 Boulevard du Palais, 1st arr.,), a jaw-dropping cathedral built in the time of St. Louis, King of France, to house Christ’s crown of thorns and a relic of the Holy Cross. The cathedral has two chapels: a lower one for the king’s servants, and an upper one for the royal family. The biggest draw here is the incredible set of unique stained glass windows—seeing them with the soft afternoon light shining through is a practically religious experience.

From Sainte Chapelle, you’re just a hop away from Notre-Dame de Paris (6 Parvis Notre Dame, Pl. Jean-Paul II [Île de la Cité], 4th arr.,), which is also open to the public on Sundays. The famed Gothic cathedral can be busy, but it is definitely worth the visit. Entrance is free to the cathedral, but a trek up into the towers will cost you 8.50€.

tables sit outside Cafe de Flore in Paris

Take a break at Café de Flore. Photo © ayustety, licensed CC BY-SA.

Need a break from the sightseeing? Stroll over to Café de Flore (172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6th arr., open every day 7:30am–1:30am). This classic Parisian café, a place to see and be seen, is a veritable institution: Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Pablo Picasso, and a whole roster of famous thinkers, artists, and writers were regulars here in their time. Order a coffee or some apéro—perhaps the house wine or a bubbly kir royale (champagne with a splash of crème de cassis)—and soak up the palpable history of the place.

For dinner, hail a taxi and make your way to the 19th for drinks and tapas at Rosa Bonheur (Parcs des Buttes Chaumont, 2 Allée de la Cascade, 19th arr., open Wednesday–Sunday 12pm–12am, Tuesday 6:30pm–12am), a funky local favorite tucked far from the tourist trails in the heights of the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Starting at 6pm Thursday through Sunday, the former pavilion hosts a guingette: a laidback evening of drinks, tapas, and DJ sets. Order the house-label wine, nibble on some baguette and foie gras, and mingle with the locals.

For a scenic nightcap, head to Le Perchoir (14 Rue Crespin du Gast, 11th arr., open Tuesday–Friday 6pm–1:30am, Saturday 4pm–1:30am ) in the neighboring 11th. This trendy bar attracts clientele from across the city, who come for the views, cocktails, and decidedly Sex and the City vibe. The bar itself isn’t immediately visible from the street—once you’re out front, a bouncer will direct you to the elevators, which bring you up seven stories to the rooftop. Finish your day up here with a delicious cocktail, perhaps some French bar snacks, and impeccable views of the sparkling City of Lights. Bon nuit!

Looking for things to do on a Sunday in Paris? Explore the City of Lights on foot like a local with this self-guided walking tour, which includes stops at some of the best restaurants in the city, as well as classic sights like Notre Dame de Paris.


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Vacation Activities in Norway for Kids https://moon.com/2017/09/vacation-activities-in-norway-for-kids/ https://moon.com/2017/09/vacation-activities-in-norway-for-kids/#respond Mon, 25 Sep 2017 19:00:01 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=59790 Children have a prominent place in Norwegian society and will be welcomed anywhere you travel, even on organized trips such as northern lights safaris and shorter glacier hikes. Here are some of the top vacation activities in Norway for kids.

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Children have a prominent place in Norwegian society and will be welcomed anywhere you travel, even on organized trips such as northern lights safaris and shorter glacier hikes.

Spacious campsite cabins provide great value family accommodations for road trips through the fjords, while the most family-friendly attractions are located in Oslo and around the southern coastline to Stavanger.

outside view of the Norwegian Petroleum Museum

Visit the Norwegian Petroleum Museum in Stavanger and the accompanying Geopark. Photo © David Nikel.

Here are some of the top vacation activities in Norway for kids:

  • Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Oslo): Children of all ages love exploring the historical farmstead brought to life with actors and animals.
  • Tusenfryd (Oslo): Traditional roller coasters keep adults happy while children are well catered to at this family-friendly theme park just outside Oslo.
  • Kristiansand Dyreparken (Kristian-sand): Norway’s biggest theme park includes an exotic zoo, water park, and plenty of unique accommodations within the park itself.
  • Norwegian Petroleum Museum (Stavanger): Immediately outside the museum is the intriguing Geopark, an experimental children’s playground that tests new ways of recycling materials and unusual objects from the petroleum industry.
  • Leo’s Lekeland: This chain of indoor play centers has branches in most major towns, including Oslo, Fredrikstad, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, and Tromsø.

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Norway.

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Explore Norway’s Coast on Hurtigruten Cruise Ships https://moon.com/2017/09/explore-norways-coast-on-hurtigruten-cruise-ships/ https://moon.com/2017/09/explore-norways-coast-on-hurtigruten-cruise-ships/#respond Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:03:51 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60030 Norway is increasing in popularity as a cruise destination, perhaps because the country's Hurtigruten cruise ships offer a much more intimate home-grown cruising experience. The fleet of 13 Hurtigruten ships travel the length of the Norwegian coastline from Bergen to Kirkenes by the Russian border.

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Norway is increasing in popularity as a cruise destination, perhaps because the country’s Hurtigruten cruise ships offer a much more intimate home-grown cruising experience.

The fleet of 13 Hurtigruten ships travel the length of the Norwegian coastline from Bergen to Kirkenes by the Russian border. In a tradition stretching back to 1893, the ships call at big cities and tiny remote communities, delivering goods and providing a vital transport link to local residents.

Hurtigruten cruse ship sits in the water of Geirangerfjord

The Hurtigruten ferry cruises through stunning scenery, include Geirangerfjord (shown here). Photo © Borlili/Dreamstime.com.

Unlike luxury cruise liners, the Hurtigruten ships are working ships with basic yet comfortable facilities for travelers. There’s no black tie required for dinner. Passage can also be booked between any two points on the route, combining a mini-cruise with an excellent transportation option between cities such as Bergen, Ålesund, and Trondheim for those without a car.

Highlights of the full 13-day round-trip cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes include:

  • An opportunity to see the northern lights (fall through spring) away from the light pollution of built-up areas.
  • Local seasonal menus devised based on the ingredients picked up at ports along the route.
  • A unique perspective on the dramatic Lofoten islands and parts of Arctic Norway that few other travelers get to see.
  • Walking tours around the thriving cities of Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim, and Tromsø, interspersed with relaxing sailings down the world-famous Geirangerfjord (summer only) and Trollfjord.

Get more information and tickets at www.hurtigruten.com.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Norway.

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3-Day Best of Oslo Itinerary https://moon.com/2017/09/3-day-best-of-oslo-itinerary/ https://moon.com/2017/09/3-day-best-of-oslo-itinerary/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:31:33 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60026 Twenty-first century Oslo is a city transformed. For decades, travelers would head straight for the mountains or the fjords, but today they linger in this cosmopolitan European capital with world-class architecture, art, and museums. Spend an entire weekend break in Oslo or tag on this three-day Oslo itinerary to a longer tour and you will not leave disappointed.

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Twenty-first century Oslo is a city transformed. For decades, travelers would head straight for the mountains or the fjords, but today they linger in this cosmopolitan European capital with world-class architecture, art, and museums. Were it not for Norway’s stunning natural environment, three days in Oslo would satisfy most travelers. That’s because the city is intrinsically linked to nature, surrounded on all sides by forest and fjord. Spend an entire weekend break in Oslo or tag on this three-day Oslo itinerary to a longer tour and you will not leave disappointed.

Should the weather be good, consider replacing any of these choices with a day trip to Drøbak, a delightful fishing village on the Oslofjord, or to Fredrikstad to wander the streets of one of northern Europe’s best-preserved fortified districts.

To conserve your budget, make the most of your hotel’s breakfast buffet and plan to eat light for lunch. Many hotels offer the opportunity to compose a packed lunch from the breakfast buffet (for an additional charge), or just grab some fruit and snacks from a supermarket.

boats in front of city hall in Oslo

Visit Oslo’s waterfront to have lunch. Photo © Jeynakanna/Dreamstime.com.

Day 1: Art and the Waterfront

A visit to the epic National Gallery affords the opportunity to see some of Edvard Munch’s most famous works with none of the crowds you might expect. Take a leisurely lunch in one of the excellent waterside restaurants on the Aker Brygge wharf, or grab a quick bite from a coffee shop and head instead to the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art at the nearby Tjuvholmen development. In the afternoon, explore the buildings that inspired the castle in Disney’s Frozen at Akershus Fortress, before completing your tour of the waterfront with a stroll on the roof of Oslo Opera House. The nearby Oslo Central Station and Jernbanetorget square offer several options for dinner.

view across the water of the Oslo Opera House

Take a stroll on the roof of the Oslo Opera House. Photo © Tasphoto/Dreamstime.com.

Day 2: The Great Outdoors

Oslo’s excellent public transit brings forest and fjord within reach of all budgets. Take the metro to the Frognerseteren mountain lodge, where you can enjoy a slice of cake and a piping hot cup of cocoa before a walk through the forest to the world-class ski jump at Holmenkollen. On your way back to the city, stop off at Majorstuen and walk the short distance to take in the life’s work of Gustav Vigeland at the remarkable Vigeland Sculpture Park. For an informal dinner head to the busy streets of Grünerløkka, where most restaurants turn into lively nightspots as the time ticks by.

Monolith at Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo

The Vigeland Sculpture Park features hundreds of stone, bronze, and wrought-iron sculptures. Photo © David Nikel.

Day 3: The Museums of Bygdøy

The Bygdøy peninsula is home to some of the country’s best museums, clustered together amid the spacious homes of some of Oslo’s wealthiest residents. The Viking Ship Museum displays restored ships found in burial mounds along the Oslofjord, together with tools and other objects that reveal much about the daily lives of the Vikings. Continuing the maritime theme, the Kon-Tiki Museum tells the fascinating tale of Thor Heyerdahl’s Pacific expeditions through the original vessels and documentary films. Finally, watch actors bring an 18th-century farming community to life at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, a must-do during the summer. Splurge on dinner and drinks in the district of Frogner, which offers several high-end options.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Norway.

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Exploring Norway Fjords by Car https://moon.com/2017/09/exploring-norway-fjords-by-car/ https://moon.com/2017/09/exploring-norway-fjords-by-car/#respond Tue, 12 Sep 2017 13:33:08 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=59783 Renting a car opens up a wealth of options to customize a Norway fjords itinerary. Even in high season there will be times when you are all alone on the roads. Turn off the main routes and perhaps you’ll end up in a dense forest, or on top of a hill with an unspoiled view of a fjord all to yourself.

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Renting a car opens up a wealth of options to customize a Norway fjords itinerary. Even in high season there will be times when you are all alone on the roads. Turn off the main routes and perhaps you’ll end up in a dense forest, or on top of a hill with an unspoiled view of a fjord all to yourself.

Outline a rough itinerary to be sure of good accommodation and restaurant options. Alternatively, tent up and take advantage of Norway’s excellent campsites and the freedom to roam laws that permit wild camping.

With two weeks and a rental car, I recommend taking in three of Norway’s most dynamic cities and several of the best known Norway fjords, while leaving plenty of time for your own exploration. It’s important to note this itinerary includes a couple of roads that are only accessible May-October, depending on the weather. A winter road trip requires much more advance planning and should only be considered by experienced winter drivers.

switchback road through the Rauma Valley

On Day 2, carve your way through the heart of Norway and along the winding roads of the Rauma valley towards Åndalsnes. Photo © destillat/iStock.

Day 1: Oslo Airport to Lillehammer

150 KM (93 MI); 2 Hours

Maximize your time on the road by renting a car from Oslo Airport Gardermoen and avoiding the high cost of driving in Norwegian cities by heading north, away from Oslo. A stop at Eidsvoll, site of the signing of Norway’s constitution, is a must for history buffs. Spend the afternoon in Lillehammer, where the Olympic Museum and open-air museum at Maihaugen offer a terrific introduction to Norwegian society and culture. Spend the night in one of the hotels overlooking the vast Lake Mjøsa.

Day 2: Drive to Åndalsnes

259 KM (161 MI); 4 Hours

Carve your way through the heart of Norway and along the winding roads of the Rauma valley towards Åndalsnes. The visitor center at the Troll’s Wall (Trollveggen), Europe’s tallest vertical rock face, is worthy of a stop. The town itself is unremarkable, so stay in a comfortable cabin at one of the several campsites in the immediate area, and enjoy a relaxing evening walk along the Rauma river in the shadow of the jagged mountains.

Day 3: Geiranger via Trollstigen

95 KM (59 MI); 3 Hours

Get to the Trollstigen mountain pass (May-Oct.) before 10am and you’ll beat the tour buses. Driving up the 11 hairpin bends is a memorable experience, as is the incredible view from the balconies that dangle over the mountain ridge. Continue on the National Tourist Route to Geiranger, allowing plenty of time for photo stops. The viewpoint at the 1,500-meter (5,000-foot) summit of Dalsnibba mountain (May-Oct., toll road) offers an outstanding bird’s-eye view of Geiranger.

Cruise ship sails through the deep blue-green waters of Geirangerfjord

This one-hour cruise past the famous waterfalls and clifftop farms of the Geirangerfjord will leave a lasting impression. Photo © sisco11/iStock.

Day 4: Geirangerfjord

21 KM (13 MI); 1.5 Hours

After a quick visit to the modern Norwegian Fjord Center, pick up a packet of chocolate from Geiranger Sjokolade as a gift or to enjoy on the car ferry to Hellesylt. This one-hour cruise past the famous waterfalls and clifftop farms of the Geirangerfjord will leave a lasting impression. Dine and stay overnight in the peaceful village of Hellesylt, or a night at the spooky Hotel Union Øye is recommended for couples.

Day 5: Royal Fjord Route to Ålesund

120 KM (75 MI); 3.5 Hours

Cross the underrated Hjørundfjord on a car ferry and follow in the footsteps of European royalty, who have traveled through this valley since the 19th century. Take a lunch in one of the many small villages along the route. Ørsta offers the most facilities and the option of an enjoyable waterside walk. Before arriving in Ålesund, take a detour through its suburbs up to the summit of Mount Aksla for one of Norway’s most spectacular urban viewpoints. An evening meal in the restaurant here is worth the cash.

Day 6: Art Nouveau Ålesund

Minimal driving in and around Ålesund

A great choice to break up a Fjord Norway road trip is to spend the day exploring the rich art nouveau architecture of Ålesund. Whether you guide yourself or take a walking tour, the charm of the city is intoxicating. During the afternoon, explore the hiking trails and nature reserves of the neighboring Giske islands or meet the penguins at the saltwater Atlantic Sea Park. The city’s restaurants offer lunch and dinner options to suit all tastes and budgets.

Day 7: Balestrand

313 KM (195 MI); 6.5 Hours

Make up a packed lunch from your hotel buffet or pick up some snacks from a supermarket for the lengthy drive south. Start your tour of the mighty Sognefjord in the peaceful village of Balestrand, perfect for exploring on foot. Treat yourself to dinner and a night in one of the historical rooms of the Kviknes Hotel and relax in one of the Sognefjord’s most picturesque locations.

melting glacier in Norway

Hike to Nigardsbreen glacier for an unforgettable experience. Photo © Alexander Nikiforov/iStock.

Day 8: Blue Ice Hike on a Glacier

173 KM (107 MI); 3.5 Hours

Drive to Gjerde for a close-up view of the Nigardsbreen glacier. Hike in the immediate area, or pre-book a guided blue ice hike for an unforgettable experience. Stay overnight at a nearby campsite, or head to Sogndal for more accommodation and dinner choices.

Day 9: Sogndal to Flåm

105 KM (65 MI); 3 Hours

Visit the magnificently preserved Borgund Stave Church and drive to Flåm via your choice of two of Norway’s most intriguing driving experiences. Negotiate the winding Snow Road (May-Sept.) over the Aurlandsfjellet mountains, or experience the unique lighting within the world’s longest road tunnel, the 24.5-kilometer (15.2-mile) Lærdal Tunnel. Stay overnight in Flåm and enjoy the range of local food and drink served at the village brewpub.

a ship sails through Naeroyfjord in Norway

Take a cruise through the narrow Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Photo © tupungato/iStock.

Day 10: A Day in Flåm

Minimal (if any) driving

This remote community may be tiny but it offers plenty of options to keep visitors occupied for a day. Choose between a kayak trip along the Aurlandsfjord, a cruise to the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord, or a return trip on the world-famous Flåm Railway. Alternatively, take it easy and stroll along the valley to the 17th-century church in the old village. Spend a second night relaxing in this peaceful location before hitting the roads again.

Day 11: Flåm to Bergen

167 KM (104 MI); 3 Hours

Drive directly to Bergen and immerse yourself in the Hanseatic history of Norway’s second city. The Bryggen wharf and associated museum are a must-see. In the evening, familiarize yourself with the modern side of Bergen. Treat yourself to a feast of New Nordic cooking at one of the city’s outstanding restaurants, or take in a concert at one of the many gig venues.

Day 12: A Day in Bergen

Minimal (if any) driving

The outstanding Bergen Art Museum deserves at least a couple hours but could easily occupy the day if you have more than a passing interest in art history. The museum’s restaurants are great choices for a light lunch or indulgent dinner. If you didn’t catch a stave church on your travels, be sure to head out to a leafy suburb on the Bergen Light Rail to see the reconstructed Fantoft Stave Church.

To shorten this trip, leave your rental car at Bergen Airport (with prior agreement, for an additional fee) and return to Oslo by plane or the scenic Bergen Line railway.

waterfall pouring into Eidfjord in Norway

Take in the spectacular Vøringsfossen waterfall as part of a night in Eidfjord. Photo © Bigandt_Photography/iStock.

Days 13-14: Oslo via Hardanger

463 KM (288 MI); 8 Hours

Driving back to Oslo in a day is possible, but you’ll miss out on even more outstanding natural beauty. It’s best to allow two days for the return trip to take in the Hardangerfjord. Cross the fjord on the Hardanger Bridge, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges, and drive all the way down the sunny eastern edge of the narrow Sørfjord for an overnight stay in Odda. Alternatively, take in the spectacular Vøringsfossen waterfall as part of a night in Eidfjord.

Skirt the edge of the vast Hardangervidda National Park on Route 7 to return to Oslo. At Hønefoss, continue on the E16 southbound toward the city or eastbound toward the airport.

Explore the stunning Norway fjords by car, including Geirangerfjord and Sognefjord, with this customizable 2-week travel itinerary that begins in Oslo and ends in Bergen.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Norway.

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Norway’s Pulpit Rock Hike https://moon.com/2017/09/norways-pulpit-rock-hike/ https://moon.com/2017/09/norways-pulpit-rock-hike/#respond Mon, 11 Sep 2017 12:12:57 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60033 Also known as Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen is the region’s biggest tourist attraction. A cubed cliff 604 meters (1,982 feet) above the Lysefjord, Preikestolen is known around the world for the photographs of tourists dangling their feet over the ledge. Whether you choose to engage in that daring activity or not, the hike to Preikestolen is a worthwhile activity in itself.

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Also known as Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen is the region’s biggest tourist attraction. A cubed cliff 604 meters (1,982 feet) above the Lysefjord, Preikestolen is known around the world for the photographs of tourists dangling their feet over the ledge. Whether you choose to engage in that daring activity or not, the hike to Preikestolen is a worthwhile activity in itself. The 625-square-meter (6,724-square-foot) top of Preikestolen is almost entirely flat, a remarkable natural feature that just so happens to present its visitors with spectacular views along the sparkling Lysefjord.

Allow around two hours each way for the hike, which starts from Preikestolen Mountain Lodge and should only be attempted by those with a reasonable level of fitness. Some clambering up rocks is necessary, along with a couple of steep inclines, which can be tricky when the weather is poor, so consider the weather forecast before you book a trip. Needless to say, if you don’t cope well with heights, this probably isn’t the trip for you.

Norwegians will tell you the hike is straightforward, but what’s easy for a Norwegian can be challenging for those who didn’t grow up with the Nordic terrain on their doorstep. If you choose the hike, take a packed lunch and plenty of water, and allow more time than you expect. Alternatively, there’s no shame in picking a relaxing fjord cruise over the hike!

tourists atop Pulpit Rock in Norway

The top of Preikestolen is almost entirely flat, a remarkable natural feature that just so happens to present its visitors with spectacular views along the sparkling Lysefjord. Photo © Oksana Byelikova/iStock.

Getting to Preikestolen by Public Transit

From central Stavanger, take the car ferry (as a walk-on passenger) to Tau, from where you can pick up a connecting bus to Preikestolen Mountain Lodge (Preikestolen Fjellstue). The timetable varies by day and by season, but generally there are at least three ferry departures before 11am.

The ferry-bus round-trip combination ticket offered by Tide Reiser (tel. 55 23 87 00, Apr.-Sept.) can be bought for 300kr from the tourist information office in Stavanger or on the ferry itself. Note that the ferry to Tau leaves from the Fiskepiren pier, east of central Stavanger, and not the main Vågen harbor. Be sure to allow plenty of time to catch the last return bus from the lodge at 5pm (Apr. and Oct.) or 9pm (May-Aug.).

Getting to Preikestolen by Car

With your own transport, take the car ferry to Tau and make your own way to the mountain lodge. Expect to pay 150kr one-way for the car ferry plus 52kr per additional passenger, and a further 100kr for the lodge’s parking lot. Following the 35-minute ferry journey, it should take a further 30 minutes to reach Preikestolen Mountain Lodge, clearly signed off route Rv13, 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) southeast of Tau.

Getting to Preikestolen by Cruise

Rødne Fjord Cruise (480kr) offers a three-hour cruise, available year-round but with limited departures October through April. From May to September, daily departures leave Vågen harbor at 10am, with an extra noon departure during July and August. While this cruise gets you up close and personal with the waterfalls and caves of the Lysefjord, the view of Preikestolen from below is nothing to write home about. That said, this is still a relaxing and enjoyable way to see one of Norway’s most naturally beautiful fjords.

From mid-May to August, you can choose to depart the cruise at Oanes, at the narrow mouth of the Lysefjord, and be transported by bus up to the mountain lodge to start the hike, and by bus back to Tau for the public ferry afterward. This eight-hour option costs 780kr, but you have to factor in an additional 52kr per person for the ferry back from Tau. Although expensive, this is a great option to combine the Preikestolen hike with a longer boat trip, but the ferry-bus combination ticket from Tide Reiser is much better value for those who are most keen on the hike.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Norway.

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